Does hallucinating or having delusions that make you feel like you’re part of a real life horror movie sound fun? This is something that can actually happen to you with lack of sleep. The following article will lead you step-by-step through the stages of exteme sleep deprivation to find out what awaits you on the other side.
Imagine for a minute how much more we could get done, if we cut down on sleep. With all that extra time, we could turn into superhumans. Ever wonder if there’s a chance to train our brain to sleep less or maybe not sleep at all?
We at WeGoRo have collected some facts about the effects of extreme sleep deprivation, in case you want to give it a try.
Being forced to cope with stress after a sleepless night, your body starts to produce an excessive amount of the hormone cortisol. Excessive cortisol makes us more irritable and anxious which leads to tension and confusion.
Your brain begins to turn off non-essential mental functions like reaction time and decision making. You feel run-down but you are still able to cope well with daily tasks.
The paradox starts with the fact that instead of feeling tired, you have a sudden burst of energy and may feel even more productive than usual. All of your senses get sharpened and the world and the people around you seem pleasant. This is because your brain is trying to compensate for the lack of sleep by increasing dopamine levels. That’s it for the good news, because if you go without sleeping beyond this point, you start facing far less exciting consequences.
Your memory begins to weaken and your reaction time decreases as your brain continues to save energy to function. If you manage to go another night without sleep, things start to go very wrong from here. Your body starts to shut down certain physical functions, like your immune system lowering your metabolism, which leads to even heavier fatigue.
Things get terrifying at this point and you may begin to hallucinate. A lack of vital chemicals and nutrients triggers reactions in your overstimulated brain, causing delusions. You may see and hear things that aren’t actually real, like whispers, strange sounds, and visions. You may also start losing track of time and forget basic things like your name or how to eat.
Almost nobody in sound mind has managed to cross the line of staying awake past 11 days. The only official record belongs to Randy Gardner, a 17-year-old student from San Diego who conducted an experiment for a scientific project in 1964. He managed to stay awake for 264 hours straight which is equal to 11 days.
Does this mean that our brain still has the potential to get through this 11-day breaking point without serious damage? Maybe, but at what cost? Next time, think twice about that all-nighter and choose sleep, don’t turn into a zombie!
Did you manage to stay awake for a long period of time? How did you do it? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Illustrated by Oleg Guta for BrightSide.me